GOMA, Congo — Rebels widely believed to be backed by Rwanda and Uganda held their positions in this key eastern Congolese city that they seized last week, letting a midnight deadline for their withdrawal expire in the early hours of Tuesday.
Trucks loaded with fighters belonging to the eight-month-old M23 rebel group patrolled the empty streets of this regional capital, as the ultimatum issued by the regional bloc representing nations in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa came to an end.
Earlier in the day, the rebels announced plans to move their headquarters to this city of 1 million later this week, another sign that they do not intend to respect the demands of mediators.
For the first time since the fall of Goma eight days ago, the Congolese government acknowledged that it had entered talks with the rebels who handed Congo’s military its most humiliating defeat since Goma was last overrun by fighters nearly a decade ago. The two sides were meeting in Kampala, the capital of neighboring Uganda. On Monday, the head of the M23 rebels confirmed that he was en route to Uganda to join in the negotiations.